What’s your plan for today, sir, my host, Rowena asked me. Just walk or bike around town siguro, I said. OK, I have a spare bike there in the garage, you can use it.
Without hint of where exactly the town center was, I pedaled my way to the north and hoped to locate a plaza or a church, knowing I would most likely find both next to each other. The Basco morning sky was overcast. Steve Harvey’s voice was blasting from the television set of a house I passed by. Nearing the town center, I caught a glimpse of a lighthouse perched on top of a hill. I followed the road until I noticed the lighthouse was coming closer and closer. I went past the capitol building, a Rizal monument park, a state high school and college campus and the Basco cathedral. When it became too difficult for my chicken legs to bike uphill, I walked the bike all the way up.
Basco Lighthouse, Naidi Hills
Continue reading “In Basco, slowing down onto siesta”
The bus terminal in Banaue stood at a cliff with a view of the just-rising sun. Local men huddled outside the terminal, their lips red with nga nga, a mixture of betel nut fruit and leaf and apog, lime powder. A middle-aged man wearing a down dark jacket spat on the sidewalk. Elisa, our guide in Batad later that day, said chewing betel nut is like smoking. The fruit, along with caffeine, alcohol and nicotine, is a stimulating substance. “Pampainit din daw ‘pag malamig,” she was told it can help add warmth to the body when it’s cold. And most days are cold in the mountains.
The morning air was crisp when we stepped out of the bus. Not as cold as I imagined but enough to know you are 5,000 feet above sea level. From the terminal, you will be taken to a restaurant where you will wait for at least 2 hours and while at it, choose your breakfast from the menu quickly waved at you by a staff. “Let’s wait for other passengers to arrive,” someone commanded. I sniffed it: tourist trap.
Continue reading “Elisa and the salvation of Batad”
I started traveling – at least my earliest recollection of getting from point A to point B – when I was around 7 to 9 years old. My mom’s family was originally from Mindoro, an island province off the southwestern coast of mainland Luzon. During summer and when school’s out, the family, with my aunts and uncles and cousins would spend a good week or two in Mindoro.
Continue reading “Mornings smell of Barako – my earliest travel memory”